AFP denies China’s gun-pointing claims off Ayungin Shoal

MANILA. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner in a press conference Tuesday, June 4, 2024.
MANILA. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner in a press conference Tuesday, June 4, 2024.Photo by Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

ARMED Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff General Romeo Brawner denied on Tuesday, June 4, 2024, the claims of China that Filipino troops stationed at the BRP Sierra Madre (LS57) in Ayungin shoal pointed their guns to China Coast Guard personnel during the recent air supply.

In a press conference in Camp Aguinaldo, Brawner said instead of the usual resupply mission being coursed through the waters off the West Philippine Sea, it was done through airdrop.

Of the four rounds of air resupply, three were recovered while one package was seized by the Chinese personnel.

“It was the second airdrop where the Chinese came in. So probably, what happened was when they saw the first pass of the airplane dropping supplies near the BRP Sierra Madre, probably that was when they started to react by sending their rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) and as you saw in the video when the second resupply package was dropped, they attempted or they went to the area to recover it despite the fact that our boats were already there,” said Brawner.

“So nakipag-agawan pa sila, inunahan pa tayo and the thing was they opened the packages and when they saw that it was only foodstuff, they threw it back into the water. Siguro naghahanap sila ng construction materials but it was just a small package enough to carry food items and enough for it to float into the water,” he added.

Brawner maintained that what China did was illegal and that the AFP personnel acted accordingly considering that the BRP Sierra Made is a commissioned Philippine vessel and that Chinese vessels ventured “dangerously close” to it, violating the safe distance protocols.

“The pointing of the guns, we are denying that any of our soldiers pointed deliberately their guns to any of the Chinese in the RHIBs, but we will not deny the fact that they were armed because the BRP Sierra Madre is a commissioned Philippines Navy ship,” he said.

“And therefore it is authorized to have weapons, we are authorized to put weapons on board, both crew served weapons and individual weapons of our soldiers. Meron tayong karapatan because of the concept of self-defense. We have the right to defend ourselves from any armed attack or external attack,” he added.

Philippine Navy spokesperson Commodore Roy Vincent Trinidad said the Chinese navy personnel lack common sense, noting that “we could not airdrop construction materials.”

“Their narrative is that they do the blocking because of construction materials,” he said.

“I would like to point out that they have zero common sense,” he added.

Despite the incident, which resulted in damage to several food supplies, including rice and biscuits, Brawner said the air resupply mission was “successful.”

He said they have already reported the incident to the Department of National Defense and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Brawner reiterated that they will abide by the orders of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to maintain maximum tolerance and implement calibrated action to avoid the escalation of the situation in the West Philippine Sea. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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